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It’s basically the motto of the Western world: an Undergraduate degree is the new high school diploma. While I don’t necessarily believe this, I do believe that it has become increasingly difficult to distinguish yourself in an ever-changing, constantly shrinking job market. There are few jobs for young professionals, yet there are many hungry job-seekers searching for their break.

Besides the facts that I love to learn and can’t pass up a challenge, this was a contributing factor to my decision to complete my Master’s degree. Sure, my liberal arts undergraduate education gave me a great foundation; I developed transferable skills, I can think critically and able to present my thoughts and ideas clearly. However, I recognized that many of my peers also had those attributes- I needed something to place me a step ahead. I needed a reason for an employer to give my CV a second glance.

But what was it that inspired me to complete my MSc abroad? I had always been adventurous and loved to travel. I think my commitment to study abroad was my way of justifying my desire to explore a new place to others, who often view those who travel as lofty or adrift.  (Disclaimer: that’s not true!) Technically, they couldn’t say I was ‘wasting’ time if I was furthering my education, right?

So, while I cannot pinpoint exactly what brought me to Google Master’s abroad programs, I can tell you is that it was the best decision I’ve ever made in terms of both my academic and personal life.

Adjusting to a higher-level of learning let alone one set in an entirely different educational framework, was incredibly challenging. I was used to scoring 90’s, or A’s, in Canada with moderate effort. In Scotland, I was fighting to earn 70’s, which is the percentage equivalent of an A. I quickly learned to stop placing so much emphasis on the final grade, and instead I began to appreciate learning as a whole. I was being seriously tested with heavy course work and rapid deadlines, similar to how I envisioned from the professional world. I was final able to appreciate that my future employer would not care about my exact GPA and results in each subject; rather, they would want to see that I met an academic encounter and succeeded. The research, skills, and tools I had to use along the way would distinguish me more than any final grade.

Looking back, completing my MSc abroad taught me a lot of "new" things, besides the obvious academic requirements. I expected change to come within new cultures, new cities, new goals and new challenges. What I didn’t expect was the impact it would haven on my pre-established thoughts -- and most notably, my sense of self. I learned that if it doesn’t inspire you, test you, or improve you, you must leave it behind. Some may say you are wasting time while you sort through this process. I, on the other hand, believe it is all part of a greater learning experience.

Besides separating me from the mass of academically qualified job candidates, I believe the ultimate benefit of completing an MSc abroad is that it shows a future employer that you are a go-getter, a self-starter and that most importantly, you are self-aware. We all have strengths and weakness. Without identifying them, we are doing ourselves a disservice. This advantage is crucial, as they are attributes that cannot be taught externally -- they have to come from within. 

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Hannah Davies is a young professional working in the field of communications with a passion for health, wellness and travel. After completing a degree at a small Canadian liberal arts university, St. Thomas, she pursued her academic career by obtaining her MSc in Corporate Communication and Public Affairs at The Robert Gordon University in Scotland in 2014.

27 Apr 2015

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